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Idrissa Gana Gueye: The Senegalese Making the Difference at Everton

Everton midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye has been credited for being the key man behind the change in Everton’s style of play. Also considered one of the best signings of the season after an impressive start at Everton, Gueye is seen as the Premier League player closest to N’Golo Kante.

The Senegalese international joined Everton after suffering relegation with Aston Villa in May last year. Signed for £7.1M, Gueye has since then tried to show his gratitude to Ronald Koeman for keeping him in the Premier League.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I am enjoying working under Koeman very much because he helped me to stay in the Premier League and it’s important for a player to give back,”[/perfectpullquote]

Gueye said.

“That’s why I try to do my best on the pitch and help the team and give all I have for Everton.”

Early life:

Gueye was born in Dakar, Senegal in 1989 and his football career began in 2001 at Diambars a club based in Senegal. He later joined French club Lille in 2008 but played for Lille B from 2008-2010 where he made 55 appearances and scored two goals.

Gueye broke into the first team in the season of 2010-11 in which Lille won Ligue 1, and became a regular starter for the next four seasons, scoring five goals in 134 appearances.

On July 10th 2015, Gueye made the move to the premier league when he signed for Aston Villa. He made his impact in the 35 appearances for the club before being relegated as he became the player second only to Kante, for the most tackles and interceptions in the 2015-16 season.

On 2nd August 2016, Everton signed the 27-year-old for £7.1M after triggering the release clause.

The holding midfielder has represented Senegal at the 2012 Olympics2015 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

The man behind Everton’s changed style of play:

Everton ranked 16th in the Premier League for tackles in 2014/15, 10th last season, and among the bottom tree teams for interceptions in the past two seasons.

This season, however, they are second on that metric thanks to the Senegalese. According to Squawka, Gueye was Europe’s best ball winner in 2016.

Playing for both Aston Villa and Everton over the years in the Premier League, he made 176 tackles and 124 interceptions, at a rate of 8.25 tackles and interceptions per game.

It is the Senegalese’s tackling prowess that captured Koeman’s attention and the Everton manager admitted that it was a factor in Gueye’s acquisition from Aston Villa.

Koeman said,

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”He was one of the players of last season with the best record in interceptions and pressing in the midfield.”[/perfectpullquote]

He added, “We need this kind of quality.”

Gueye is currently the top tackler in the Premier League with 116 and also makes top six for players with most interceptions.

Idrissa Gana Gueye2

Getty Images

It should also be noted that Gueye does a lot more than tackling and intercepting balls for Everton. He has been instrumental in the team’s change of style of play.

“From the first day that Gana was here he has showed what we need in the midfield,” said Koeman after Everton’s 3-0 away win over Sunderland in September.

“The energy, how we pressed … he’s fantastic to have on your team.”

Koeman went further to describe the midfielder as “perfect” in every aspect of football adding, “Of course he wins a lot of second balls, he wins a lot of tackles, but the boy showed his composure in midfield.

“In my opinion, in that position in the team, he will become maybe the best in the Premier League.”

On being asked about his teammate Gueye, Lukaku told EA Sports,”He’s been one of the signings of the season for me; he improved the team in midfield by making so many challenges.

“He allows us to control the game a lot more which we were lacking slightly last year. He’s given us this control through his work rate, passing, and his dedication. He is someone that we really need.”

Former Everton striker Yakubu was also critical of Gueye’s contribution and hailed the Senegalese as the signing of the season.

“It is pleasing to see and, for me, he is the signing of the season,” Yakubu told

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“He has everything – energy, pace and he supports the team at both ends of the pitch.”[/perfectpullquote]

He added, “The supporters have taken to him and I’m sure they will enjoy him even more and more as time goes on. I think next season he will be even better.”

Despite being compared to Kante in all aspects, Gueye, however, maintains that Kante is still ahead of him.

“For me, he is the best midfielder in the world,” Gueye told Sky Sports.

Playing at one of the highest levels of world football and putting up such impressive and important performances, it will not be a surprise to see big clubs vying for the Senegalese’s signature at the end of the season.

Featured photo: Getty Images

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